The “new normal” in state public education funding is becoming deplorably abnormal!
According to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (http://www.cbpp.org/state-general-funding-per-student-still-lower-than-2008-in-23-states) Alabama is # 2 at -14.2% on the list of 15 of the worse (And for my “equality of evil” friends: Republican controlled and led) sates, that have consistently reduced state support for public education. Talk about strategically investing in a future crop of truckloads of deplorable voters!
Alabama it seems, has other priorities, like a (recently removed, but widely popular) chief judge who thought he was running for the Old Testament position of chief priest of marriage inequality. A voter I.D. law designed to suppress the participation of the state’s Black voters. And to ensure its success, the governor and his legislative Republican allies, played the ugly game of hide-close-and seek with DMV offices in those parts of the state with high concentrations of Black voters. And speaking of the governor. who has recently taken to denouncing Donald Trump’s disgracious language and behavior toward women; while he is cynically using the citizenry’s singular focus on more important matters– like football, to run out the public attention span game clock on his own sex scandal. And then there is the state’s prison system which models itself after the architecture of pre-civil war southern slave quarters.
If there was any state that needed to be #1 in investing in its children, then it should be Alabama. If you are in a deep “underdevelopment” hole; then it helps to start digging. And the best shovel for that job is a strong K-12 school system. I get it, it’s hard to even get states that have accepted that the civil war is over to make the education of its young citizens a major governmental priority. And the authors of Alabama’s “highly uneducated” production-movement, can rightfully point an accusing finger at: Democratically (including Black mayor-council) controlled cities, or those places with some of the nation’s highest per pupil expenditures, and those places with phenotypically black people who are in charge of the school systems; and public education in those places is a disaster, particularly, and specifically for students of color.
Investing in public education requires a type of strategic vision that unfortunately citizens don’t insist be a part of an elected officials qualifying job description. And this low-standard for political leadership exist even as just about everyone you talk to in Alabama, or any other place I have lived, believes that education is one of the most important things in the world; although (and sometimes because of) they themselves underachieved in their own educational hopes and dreams.
But beyond the important role public education plays in a state’s pace and direction for economic development, raising the quality of civil and social engagements between people, reducing the cost of incarceration, and the social-psychological-counseling “repairing” work that is needed when people are not successfully educated. There is the individual human cost of not fulfilling one’s gifted and talented “calling” in life. And for a place that so diligently wraps itself in the words and phraseology of Christianity; I find it hard to understand it not wanting to honor and properly nurture God’s gift and promise to humanity’s future… a society’s children.